Jan. 24, 2014 By Jack Jodell.
Few Americans bemoaned the collapse of the old Soviet Union when it occurred nearly a quarter century ago. After all, it had quickly regressed from its once nobly-inspired idealistic goals of economic equality for all (with a heady dose of libertine social practices thrown in) to a series of brutal, corrupt dictatorships which employed deadly force and the complete suppression of all human rights, social as well as economic, to maintain itself. While claiming allegiance to the theories of German philosopher Karl Marx, it (as well as most of its subsequent derivative forms, like the Chinese, Vietnamese, Korean, and Cuban models, to name but a few) differed quite a bit from true Marxism. The only common tenet between all of these variations seemed to be their justified aversion to capitalism, and their extreme suppression of religion and human rights. One would have hoped that uber-wealthy capitalists would have learned their lesson from the collapse of institutionalized Marxism, and would have modified their overly self-centered obsession with grabbing as much economic, social, and governmental power for themselves as possible, but such was not the case. Instead of trying to correct their previous mistakes and trying to prevent the future re-emergence of an even greater form of Marxism, since the mid-1970s, these greedy capitalists (call them the 1% if you will) have embarked on an unprecedented global rampage of greedy acquisition and control. Their aim is to grab as much profit as they can for themselves. To achieve this, they will ruthlessly employ any means necessary, and will effectively create a world populated by only two classes: the HAVES (themselves), and the HAVE-NOTS (everybody else). If they are successful (and it appears that they are well on the way to achieving their sordid goal), the American middle class will completely disappear, as will all labor unions, and every regulation on business which has provided at least some degree of relative fairness and safety for workers for over 100 years! Yes, in their zeal to eradicate any form of state control over business practices whatsoever, this 1% will end up once again instituting feudalism and/or indentured servitude. “Freedom” as we have come to know it will be gone, and the only “free” persons left will be those elites sitting smugly in that upper 1%. The 99% MAJORITY will become slaves, completely devoid of power or influence.
The dreadful “Citizens United” Extreme Court decision of 2010 sealed the fate of American democracy. It ensured that this country is now a democracy in name only. Franklin Delano Roosevelt warned us in 1936 that “government by organized money is just as dangerous as government by organized mob.” These were very profound words. Americans in 1936 wisely accepted those words, and allowed FDR and his overwhelmingly progressive Democratic congressional majority to enact very sensible and fair-minded legislation which by absolute necessity included strict regulations on banking and business overall. In 1944, Roosevelt even proclaimed what he thought should be enacted for the entire country once it had emerged victorious from World War II. He called it the “Second Bill of Rights”, and it is a shame he died before it could even be legislated on or implemented. It is indeed visionary, and definitely deserves a second look today…
This “Second Bill of Rights” would provide economic security and prosperity for all citizens, regardless of their race, creed, or station in life. For many years, all the nation’s self-centered economic wannabes have insisted that this goal is impossible to reach, but I strongly disagree with that assertion. For one thing, we have never seriously tried to accomplish it. For another. libertarians and paranoid conservatives have long opposed and have even fought such pro-citizen action by all levels of government. They have obstructed and even sabotaged attempts to legislate and implement such beneficial action. In the few cases where such legislation has been passed into law, they have largely succeeded in blocking necessary funds for its implementation or have filibustered it into inaction. has been passed into law, they have largely succeeded in filibustering it into de facto inaction on funding. Even before the odious Citizens Omited ruling, wealthy libertarians lide the nefarious inherited-money Koch Brothers began holding a great many secret meetings with like-minded billionaires on how best to subvert our democratic process by stealthily buying-out select politicians and by funding massive misinformation campaigns designed to confuse and misdirect voters. Encouraged by the deluded, paranoid ex-Supreme Court Justice Louis Powell’s seriously misguided beliefs that America’s economy was in danger and under assault by a middle class that had grown too prosperous at the expense of the wealthy, these reverse Robin Hoods set out to “correct” this “injustice” by engaging in stealthy, democratic subversion. Their idea of solving this so-called problem has resulted in massive deregulation efforts which have directly led to an increase in citizen poverty, oil spills in the Gulf of Mexico and elsewhere, the Great Recession of 2008, massive unemployment, reduced wages for new jobs, increased air pollution, polluted, undrinkable water in most of West Virginia, and a host of other undesirable and even dangerous effects across the country. In short, it has led to increased anxiety, misery, loss of civil rights, and even death for all bit the very wealthiest 1%. It is NOT a legacy to be proud of or even to emulate!
It is high time this country returned to review and even adopt FDR’s visionary Second Bill of Rights! For it justly called for all American citizens the right to be recipients of a sufficient amount of nutritious, uncontaminated FOOD. FDR also called for everyone to have the right to live in decent, safe, and affordable HOUSING. He correctly believed that this right was far more important than high profits for mortgage bankers, land developers, and even landlords. Roosevelt then called for all Americans to have the right to a good-paying JOB. The only way any economy can really thrive is if its consumers have enough money to spend and are actually able to utilize the goods and services their labor produces. THAT IS WHY AN IMMEDIATE INCREASE IN THE MINIMUM WAGE TO MORE THAN $10 PER HOUR IS SO VITALLY IMPORTANT, and also WHY THE BARGAINING POWER OF LABOR UNIONS MUST BE UNNEDIATELT RESTORED! FDR also recognized HEALTH CARE to be an essential human right. Sadly, our current President, Congress, and industry leaders do not. Instead, they view it as a commodity – something to be purchased on the open market, which means that the very poor or working poor will not have access to it or will often receive lesser quality care. For this reason, we must eradicate these nonsensical greedy, profiteering health care insurers from the scene altogether and replace our bogus current system with a UNIVERSAL, single-payer system NOW! Roosevelt also called for every cirizen to receive a decent EDUCATION so that he or she would be able to attain gainful employment at a livable wage. Below is a partial text of what and why he called for these things. He [resented this in his January, 1944 State of the Union Address:
“It is our duty now to begin to lay the plans and determine the strategy for the winning of a lasting peace and the establishment of an American standard of living higher than ever before known. We cannot be content, no matter how high that general standard of living may be, if some fraction of our people—whether it be one-third or one-fifth or one-tenth—is ill-fed, ill-clothed, ill-housed, and insecure.
This Republic had its beginning, and grew to its present strength, under the protection of certain inalienable political rights—among them the right of free speech, free press, free worship, trial by jury, freedom from unreasonable searches and seizures. They were our rights to life and liberty.
As our nation has grown in size and stature, however—as our industrial economy expanded—these political rights proved inadequate to assure us equality in the pursuit of happiness.
We have come to a clear realization of the fact that true individual freedom cannot exist without economic security and independence. “Necessitous men are not free men.” People who are hungry and out of a job are the stuff of which dictatorships are made.
In our day these economic truths have become accepted as self-evident. We have accepted, so to speak, a second Bill of Rights under which a new basis of security and prosperity can be established for all—regardless of station, race, or creed.
Among these are:
The right to a useful and remunerative job in the industries or shops or farms or mines of the nation;
The right to earn enough to provide adequate food and clothing and recreation;
The right of every farmer to raise and sell his products at a return which will give him and his family a decent living;
The right of every businessman, large and small, to trade in an atmosphere of freedom from unfair competition and domination by monopolies at home or abroad;
The right of every family to a decent home;
The right to adequate medical care and the opportunity to achieve and enjoy good health;
The right to adequate protection from the economic fears of old age, sickness, accident, and unemployment;
The right to a good education.
All of these rights spell security. And after this war is won we must be prepared to move forward, in the implementation of these rights, to new goals of human happiness and well-being.
America’s own rightful place in the world depends in large part upon how fully these and similar rights have been carried into practice for all our citizens.
For unless there is security here at home there cannot be lasting peace in the world.”
Now THAT is the way a truly progressive and visionary President believes and addresses both Congress and the people! Regrettably, we are today sadly lacking in such caliber of leadership. Our political parties have drifted FAR to the right of where they were in 1944. Instead of regulating corporations to ensure fairness in the marketplace and a livable wage for ALL, most current Democrats and nearly all Republicans have instead deregulated them to the point where corporate needs and wants of the wealthiest 1% are placed well ahead of the MAJORITY 99% below them on the income scale. That is why the next several elections are so very crucial to the future of the country, and why a clear majority of Progressives MUST be elected to Congress AND even to the presidency! We must all work hard to evict as many conservatives and reactionary Tea Party libertarians and Republicans from government as possible. This “Second Bill of Rights MUST be resurrected and implemented, before corporatists succeed in their aim to inflict us all in a new economic Dark Ages!